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I was just 7 years old on Dec. 7, 1941. That was the day the Japanese, now our good friends, attacked Pearl Harbor. I was riding in the car with my mom and dad, and they had just heard the news. I was too young to understand what had happened, or what it meant. All I knew was that my world was changing somehow.

They were gravely concerned. They spoke in low tones. I could feel their anxiety, and it scared me. I sensed that things weren’t going to go on as they had, but I couldn’t know at all what lay ahead. I’ll never forget that short ride when I was 7.

If you’re old enough, you know that America did change, overnight, and for years to come. We were in a cataclysmic, all-out war. Things – little and big things – became scarce or totally unavailable. There was rationing – even of necessary things. We shut out our lights at night, in air-raid rehearsals. Many dads went to war, and others took on defense responsibilities. Many women went to work in defense plants and other jobs to help in the war effort.

Everybody was glued to the radio, at night and during the days. If we went to a movie, which was rare, the newsreels were all about the war, where our soldiers were, the casualties they were suffering and the advances they made against our enemies. It was upheaval; it was turbulent and uncertain. There seemed to be an unspoken danger that our whole world might cave in on us.

The war went on, in Europe and Asia, for more than three years, but to a little boy it seemed almost forever. Eventually it ended, and an exuberant celebration ensued. Mama and Daddy were oh so greatly relieved that my brother and sisters and I could gradually relax into a new, peaceful and hopeful world.

How did we make it through that very real nightmare? We did it by focusing on the basics. We pulled together as a family, and as communities and as a nation, and we shouldered the responsibilities and shared with one another. The churches were full at every service, and people really prayed, singly and in groups, not just observing rituals and old habits. Neighbors helped each other. Everybody sacrificed to “do their part” for the war effort. For “the boys.” For America. It was a struggle for our very survival, and with God’s help – we survived.

It’s now 2010, and we’re sliding into another struggle for our very survival. It all feels so familiar, and I know we’re going to have to come together again – as families, communities and as a nation. We’ll have to take on new responsibilities, make new sacrifices and help each other in unfamiliar ways.

Thanks to circumstances, awful decisions inside our financial and political centers of power and attacks on our country by enemies without uniforms or consciences, we as a people are facing both the collapse of our economy and the apparent inability or unwillingness of our government to make the tough choices to turn things around.

What to do? Is there a way out of this mess? Can we ever get back to where we were, just a few years ago?

The latest newsletter from one of our country’s greatest, most respected organizations – Focus on the Family – deserves our notice. For decades now, under the leadership of James Dobson, and now James Daly, this solid group of sociologists, counselors and experts in all things related to the family has offered advice, experienced and godly counsel, and real leadership. And now they’re calling the nation, all of us, to focus – to focus on the basics, the bottom line issues that must be addressed, if we’re to survive. If America as we’ve known it is to continue.

These five fundamentals, these basics, are:

Threats to religious liberty: If we can’t solve this one, nothing else will matter. Religious freedom is increasingly under attack, as people of simple faith face discrimination – or worse – for defending marriage and other basic values like expressing faith publicly, against militant and well-funded special interest groups. Courts and individual judges are ruling from the bench against believers – and belief itself.

Parents rights in their children’s education: School choice is becoming the civil-rights issue of the day. Teachers unions, many controlled by the same special interest groups, are compelled to undermine parents’ teaching and brainwash their kids with secular, humanistic dogma instead of real American history and traditional values.

Health care: This issue is not just about providing sensible health care to all citizens; it’s about giving government unprecedented control over the whole matter, and at a cost that will bankrupt the country.

Citizenship: The freedoms we value as Americans all derive from our citizenship, and the rights guaranteed us by our Constitution. These rights come from God and have been paid for in the blood and sacrifice of our valiant men and women over two centuries. They can’t be just given away – or taken illegally.

Marriage: There is not one person in this country who wasn’t born to a father and a mother. The circumstances vary widely, of course, but the biological facts are incontrovertible. The institution of marriage between a man and a woman is the very foundation, not just of America, but the human race itself.

Focus on the Family continues to lead the legislative and judicial battles to preserve our very society. Whole states, a lot of them, are fighting the government health-care takeover, and Focus on the Family mounted a grassroots voter campaign that helped elect the new attorney general in Virginia, a new leader in the fight. Convinced that not voting responsibly from now on is just un-American, Focus on the Family is actively involved in voter registration drives this fall in states where great and needed changes can be made on Election Day.

Friend, I’m as concerned now as my parents were in 1941. We need to contact Focus on the Family (800-A-FAMILY or FocusOnTheFamily.com) and give sacrificially to support their intelligent and effective soldiering to save our nation.

We’re quickly running out of time and opportunity.

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